Well done America. Poor show Europe, er, I mean Holland

An ignominious bit of history was made the other day. For the first time since records began, in the late 1990s, the USA has been knocked off the top spot for publishing child sex abuse images. Year after year, as reliably as clockwork, the Uncle Sam was numero uno as the world’s largest apparent source. There was a brief period when it looked like Russia might overtake them but then suddenly the Kremlin got busy and that threat to US supremacy faded away.

How do we know Holland is now top dog? On Monday of this week the IWF published its annual report. Here is a brief synopsyis of the key facts:

92% of all child sexual abuse URLs identified globally in 2016 were hosted in five countries: Netherlands (37%), USA (22%), Canada (15%), France (11%), and Russia (7%). In contrast, the UK now hosts less than 0.1% of child sexual abuse imagery globally.

As I recall, in the past the US and Canadian numbers used to be combined into a single figure for North America but even if we did that again Holland still has the edge if only by a tiny amount. Either way the Dutch percentage is up 18% on last year whereas the US has gone down by 15% and the Canadians by 5%. Is there any other heading where a relatively small country like Holland outstrips a giant like the USA?

How do we explain the US and Canadian success? A colleague in the USA who is close to these things said the following

This is a really telling story about the success of U.S. companies implementing PhotoDNA and scanning for CSAM based on hash values. 

So is the opposite true? I suspect it is. In other words the failure  by companies based in Holland to deploy tools such as Photo DNA accounts for Holland’s current shameful position. And this has been coming down the track for several years. Nobody in the Netherlands can honestly claim they are shocked or surprised, unless they haven’t been paying attention.

By the way my US source added that he didn’t think there was necessarily less CSAM making its way on to US servers but

The difference now is that the U.S. companies are voluntarily taking proactive steps to   scan their systems and are essentially finding and removing the content before anyone in the public does.   They are able to stay a step ahead with technology.

And for that the rest of the world and a great many children are extremely grateful.

The irony of the fact that INHOPE and Europol have their headquarters in the country that is being least effective in dealing with CSAM will not be lost on everyone.